Let’s face it – when it comes to the foodie scene, Melbourne slays. So, when our post Destination Dish: Sydney came out last month, we knew we had to back it up with a Melbourne restaurant edition. Long live the Sydney vs. Melbourne rivalry!

Let’s cut straight to the meat of it (pun intended). It was no easy feat, but we’ve narrowed down our pick of the best restaurants in Melbourne surrounds that make the perfect destination for a road trip. A mix of established icons and new kids on the block, these are the crème de la crème of Australia’s premier culinary region.

They’re all but a day trip away, so time to satisfy those palates. No car? No problem! Pop into any of the Thrifty locations in Melbourne and let your taste buds lead the way.

Doot Doot Doot, Merricks North

81 km south east of Melbourne | 1.25-hour drive

Daring by nature, Doot Doot Doot is a tantalising sensory pleasure in upscale dining.

Jackalope Hotels’ Executive Chef, Guy Stanaway, has created a bold menu that contrasts traditional techniques with culinary curiosities. Local produce is bought from a select number of Mornington Peninsula suppliers, and the matching wines are, of course, from the on-site single-vineyard heritage.

Expanding on the hotel’s narrative: alchemy, a custom-made centerpiece by artist Jan Flook of 10,000 lights twinkle from the ceiling to evoke the sensation of fermenting bubbles.

 

Lake House, Daylesford

115 km north west of Melbourne | 1.5-hour drive

2 Chefs Hats and Australia’s Wine List of the Year Hall of Fame – enough said.

Culinary geniuses, Director Alla Wolf-Tasker AM and Executive Chef, David Green, bring you one of Victoria’s most enriching gastronomic experiences.

Locally sourced produce is handpicked by Alla for a morning delivery from several organic farms nearby. From rare-breed pork and freshwater fish to heirloom fruit from old orchards – you can’t get more paddock-to-plate than this. And the dishes are almost too pretty to eat. Almost.

Set on the edge of Victoria’s spa country, Lake House is nestled in the shores of seductive lake Daylesford amongst six acres of natural beauty.

Captain Moonlite, Anglesea

122 km south east of Melbourne | 1.5-hour drive

Chef Matt Germanchis and partner Gemma Gange (both culinary royalty) have breathed life into the Anglesea Surf Lifesaving Club with their med-inspired fare, putting the Coast’s best-kept secret on the epicurean map. Their motto: High tides + Good Vibes.

Look out over Anglesea’s ocean vista on the timber-decked veranda, casual yet effortlessly cool in its décor, while enjoying the prawn and seaweed crackers, whole flounder with sweet and sour tomatoes and chickpea fritters, or slow-roasted lamb with peas and goats curd.

Maintaining the restaurant’s local focus, a percentage of profits go directly to the Surf Lifesaving Club.

 

Brae, Birregurra 

138 km south west of Melbourne | 1.5-hour drive

Set on an idyllic 30-acre farm, in the rolling hills of the Otway Ranges, Brae has steadily been climbing the almost impossible culinary ladder, ever since opening in 2013.

And this year (2017), Chef Dan Hunter has made the impossible happen, with the contemporary restaurant placing 44th on a little list known as the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

Using regenerative farming techniques to restore the land, the set menu – ever changing as you can imagine from a live-off-the-land principle – is full of dishes that show the utmost respect to nature and seasonality.

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Malayan Orchid, Bendigo

155km north west of Melbourne | 1 hour 55-minute drive

Bendigo is really worth a weekend visit if you want to take in everything the small city has to offer. However, as it’s just under a two-hour drive from the Melbourne CBD, it’s also a great place to visit on your culinary day trips. Our recommendation is the incredible Malayan Orchid restaurant.

Chef Bobby (as he’s known) combines traditional South Asian cuisine with locally sourced ingredients, creating some incredible dishes you won’t find anywhere else. The best part? Reasonable prices mean you can eat until your heart’s content. Lobster laksa anyone?

Those are our top picks of Melbourne restaurants worth the drive. Any we missed? Let us know which ones are your faves.